Friday, March 2, 2012


The Coquitlam Express clinched a second consecutive trip to the Fred Page cup playoffs thanks to a hard fought 5-4 come from behind win over the Langley Rivermen.

The club earned at least the 4th and final Coastal conference spot by posting their 33rd win of the season.

It wasn't the easiest of contests vs. a Langley team that played a close checking affair all night long and made the home team work for everything that they got.

The Express jumped on Langley hard in the opening minutes of the game and opening a size able early advantage in shots. Goaltender James Barr was strong turning aside every Express bid sent his way.

Ben Greiner opened the scoring against the flow of play sliding a sharp angle shot through the legs of Cole Huggins on just the second shot of the game for Langley.

Now with the lead, Langley really slowed the game down. They sat back in their neutral zone trap and made life difficult for the Express coming out of their own end. It certainly didn't do anything for the entertainment value of this game.

Late in the opening frame Chris Tracy extended the Langley lead cutting into the slot and firing a shot over the shoulder of Huggins. The goal came just seconds after a Rivermen powerplay had expired.

A powerplay goal by Darnell Dyck gave Langley a 3-0 lead 5 minutes into the second period. That goal ended Cole Huggins night after 3 goals on 11 shots.

A three goal deficit for most teams facing a club like Langley trying to slow it down and stifle the offensive attack of most teams might be too much to overcome. But it's not too much for this years edition of the Express.

They finally got the boost they were looking for as they began mounting their comeback as Alex Kerfoot teed up a slapshot for Clinton Atkinson to give the Express a shorthanded goal.

There's no doubt that goal turned the fortunes of this game back in favour of the Express.

Riding the momentum of the shorthanded marker, the Express pressed hard looking to get back into the game. Just 3;16 after Atkinson's tally, Zach Hodder made a nice drop pass to Alex Petan who quickly fired it past Barr and the lead was cut down to one.

The Express kept applying the pressure until the end of the second period looking for the equalizer.

That goal didn't come until the Express got just their second powerplay of the game early in the third. Brady Shaw tried a centering pass which was blocked but the puck came right back to Shaw who easily put it in the net for his 14th powerplay goal of the season to tie the game at 3.

Alex Kerfoot picked up his second assist of the game and 41st helper of the season on that goal. Kerfoot's 41 assists now ties him with Destry Straight for the most in a season by an Express rookie.

But just 30 seconds later Langley went ahead again. Alex Petan whiffed on a pass on a 4 on 2 rush allowing Austin Plevy and Darnell Dyck to break out 2 on 1 the other way. Plevy put a perfect pass on the tape of Dyck who roofed it over a sprawled out Khaleed Devji.

Again the Express mustered the energy to mount a comeback. Malcom McKinney made a great behind the back pass to Petan who one timed it home to pull the Express even at 4 with his second of the game.

McKinney finished the game with a pair of helpers. It was hard not to notice him on this night. Aside from his slick play making, McKinney was also making his presence felt physically on this night. He delivered at least three solid hits. One of those hits knocked rookie defenceman Bo Pellah out of the game in the second period.

The clock ticked down to the final minutes of the third period still tied at 4. Alex Petan finally broke the deadlock with 1:43 to go. He fired a shot from the middle of the ice wide of the Langley goal, but was able to gather his own rebound and finish off his second hat-trick of the season to give the Express their first lead of the game.

It was also the second hat-trick for the Express captain vs. Langley this season.

What makes this win impressive for the Express is how they never allowed themselves to get frustrated with Langley's tight checking style and maintain their composure which allowed them to come back and win. If there's anything that can be learned from what we've seen from the Express during this 5 game homestand that is now complete, it's that the Express are never out of a game. They've had a few games where they've came from behind.

Even though they played a number of teams that tried their best to try and shutdown the Express explosive attack, they never lost focus and found ways to work for the full 60 minutes and find a way to win.

This home stand has proven that the Express are never out of a game. And they will battle a team hard all game long.

The Express and Rivermen will go at it again for the second of a home and home Saturday night in Langley.

A playoff opponent for the Express is still to be determined. What is known is they will begin their quest to BCHL supremacy two weeks from tonight on March 16th.

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